Best Cenotes in Riviera Maya, Mexico
The word cenote (pronounced suh-NO-tay), comes from the Maya dz’onot meaning natural well or reservoir. Formed when a limestone surface collapses, exposing water underneath, cenotes are common in the Yucatan Peninsula. Cenotes are also associated with the cult of the rain gods, or Chacs, and in ancient times, precious objects, such as gold and copper (and even human beings!), were thrown into the cenotes as offerings. A survivor was believed to bring a message from the gods about the year’s crops. If you’ve ever been to the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, you know what it is to go for a dip in these refreshing natural pools of crystal-blue waters and to explore the centuries-old caves. Here are some of my favorite cenotes near Playa del Carmen:
Located just past Puerto Aventuras along Highway 307, Cenote Cristalino is popular with locals and tourists alike and features a great jump-off point and cave. A nominal entrance fee is charged. My tip: Bring your own cooler with beverages and snacks.
Located south of Cenote Cristalino, Azul is one of the area’s smaller cenotes. It’s wise to show up early – especially on Sundays – as the entrance is blocked once a certain number of people are in the water. Catfish are in abundance here and snorkel equipment is available for rent. A snack shack is also on site.
Just south of Puerto Morelos on Highway 307, keep your eyes peeled for Tres Bocas (“three mouths”), which consists of three cenotes in one area. Tres Bocas is more remote than other cenotes and is rarely crowded.